Facebook opens itself to measurement audit, gives brands more control over video ad buys

Facebook will sell video ads based on the industry’s viewability standard and introduce a new sound-on option.

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In an effort to rebuild advertisers’ trust following a series of measurement errors last year, Facebook has moved to make its ad measurements more transparent and give advertisers more control over what they are buying.

Facebook has agreed to let the media industry’s independent measurement monitor, Media Rating Council (MRC), audit the measurements it provides advertisers, the company announced on Friday. The news, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, follows talks between the company and industry watchdog in December that were fueled by an industry increasingly uneasy with Facebook’s self-reported measurements not being open to objective evaluation.

In addition to letting the MRC inspect its ad measurements, Facebook will offer up new measurements to give advertisers a more granular idea of how their display ads are performing, as well as new ad-buying options for their video ads that let brands be more precise about what they are paying for.

For display ads running on Facebook and Instagram, Facebook will break down the time that the ad appeared on a screen to the millisecond. Advertisers will be able to see how many milliseconds the entire ad was on the screen, how many milliseconds half of the ad was on the screen and how many milliseconds at least one pixel of the ad was on the screen.

For video ads running on Facebook, Instagram and Facebook’s Audience Network ad network, later this year Facebook will offer up new options for when advertisers are charged for the ads.

If an advertiser only cares that people watched the full ad and the ad is no longer than 10 seconds, it can opt to only pay for views of the full video — with an important caveat. Facebook’s completed-view buying only applies to video ads that are 10 seconds or shorter. Advertisers running longer spots won’t be able to buy based on completed views, though they can opt for Facebook’s 10-second view option that only charges them for views that lasted 10 seconds.

If an advertiser cares that people watch its videos with the sound on, it can opt to only pay when people watch its ads with the sound on. It’s unclear whether the ad-buying option will include a requirement that the sound be on for a certain amount of time before the advertiser is charged.

And if an advertiser wants to hold Facebook’s video ads to the industry viewability standard, it can opt to only pay when at least 50 percent of the ad is in view for at least two straight seconds, in accordance with the MRC’s video ad viewability standard. This option not only raises the viewability requirement over Facebook’s default that charges an advertiser the millisecond their ad appears on screen, but it also enables advertisers to compare their Facebook video ad buys on a more apples-to-apples basis with video ads they bought elsewhere online using the same viewability standard.

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About the author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

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